Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Joe West Opts In, Several Crew Chiefs Out for 2020

MLB's senior-most umpire Joe West has opted in for the 2020 season while at least 10 other umpires have taken MLB's opt-out package, West explaining he feels that COVID-19 is not a threat to his health, despite the League's assessment that West is "high-risk." West also noted he plans to return in 2021 to surpass Bill Klem for the most regular season games officiated in MLB history.

Meanwhile, a source informs Close Call Sports that at least eight crew chiefs and two additional umpires on the full-time staff—including those deemed "high-risk"—have opted out. MLB offered to pay these umpires their full wages (as agreed to for the 2020 season), along with credit for a year of service time.

For instance, MLB's senior-most Crew Chief (as opposed to senior-most umpire-overall West) is Gerry Davis, another umpire who may be deemed at risk, and who is just 43 games shy of achieving his own milestone of 5,000 games worked. Unlike West, however, Davis may well decide to opt out.

Other longtime crew chiefs, in order of seniority, include, Jerry Layne, Brian Gorman, Tom Hallion, Mike Winters, and Fieldin Culbreth. A handful of non-crew chiefs also are in the older age category. Long-time backup crew chief Phil Cuzzi, for instance, will turn 65 in August, while rookie crew chief Kerwin Danley will not actually step on the field to work as a regular season crew chief until he is 59 years old.

Another umpire, Greg Gibson, is sidelined in 2020 with a quadriceps injury.
Related PostInjury Scout - Greg Gibson Out for 2020 Season (6/11/20).

In an interview with The Athletic, West explained that MLB Deputy Commissioner Dan Halem was "taken aback" by West's decision to work the 2020 season, while revealing that umpires will likely fly mostly on team charters during the season, with little-to-no commercial air travel.

With West unable, in 2020, to surpass Bill Klem's record for most regular season games officiated in Major League history, the difference between opting in and out, relative to Klem, would be setting a new all-time games worked record in early April 2021 vs June or July 2021.

In deeming an umpire "high-risk," MLB considered several criteria, including age and medical history, including body mass index (BMI).

As for West, he described his heart as "healthy as a horse's" while stating his belief that coronavirus doesn't personally pose a significant health risk: "Most of these people that they're reporting are dying are not healthy to begin with," adding, "I don't believe in my heart that all these deaths have been from the coronavirus. I believe it may have contributed to some of the deaths." West also said he lost 25 pounds over the offseason.

Will umpires like West wear a mask?
According to the Center for Disease Control, however, the greater risk for misclassification is COVID-19 deaths being misclassified as pneumonia or influenza in the absence of positive test results, as opposed to non-COVID deaths being misclassified as COVID-caused.

West's home state of Florida, for instance, which is presently experiencing a statistically significant spike in reported COVID-19 deaths, does not include in its report "probable" cases: in Florida, only "confirmed" cases are included in its death report.

The CDC and John Hopkins University reported 130,000 COVID-19 deaths in the United States at the time of this report.

Video as follows:

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

MLB Mulls Reduced Travel for Umpires in COVID Season

When it comes to controlling the spread of COVID-19, umpires are undoubtedly MLB's weak link. In a normal year, umpires travel more than any team, walk through public airports, and take more commercial flights than any other on-field personnel. Consider that an umpire's average age is significantly higher than a player's, and umpires similarly are the most vulnerable uniformed characters in baseball to both contracting and spreading the coronavirus.

For this reason, Major League Baseball is reportedly considering mitigation strategies for its most exposed Tier 1 cohort that go above and beyond COVID testing and other measures already in store for players, coaches, and managers.

Some of MLB's potential plans for umps include:
> Umpire crews may be regionally based and drive whenever possible, as opposed to fly. This means a healthy dose of Los Angeles-to-Anaheim-to-San Diego and New York-to-New York-to-Philadelphia-to-Boston routes.
It is unclear whether MLB will seek to redraw the crews or simply distribute existing 2020 crews throughout the country (and, perhaps, Toronto...will Stu Scheurwater head up a permanent Canada crew?).
Related Post2020 MLB Umpire Crews (Delayed Season) (5/6/20).

> Crews may stay at one site for an entire homestand and not leave after every series.
> Umpires may stay at team hotels, as opposed to offsite at separate accomodations.
> Call-up umpires may be on standby as taxi squads, similar to MiLB players.
> MLB still has the option to forego Replay Review this year, but prefers to keep it in place.
> Face coverings may be encouraged but not required.

Joe West & Gerry Davis are nearing records.
And a confirmed rules change is already in the books:
> Umpires will have the authority to eject any player or manager who leaves his position to argue a call or instigate an altercation with a guideline of a six-foot socially distant circle.

UEFL rhetorical question: Will we see an increase in ejections or will players/coaches/managers respect MLB's guidelines?

Additionally, high-risk umpires may be offered paid opt-out options for health and safety concerns, likely with credit for service time.

For instance, Joe West, born on Halloween 1952, enters the 2020 season at the age of 67. Gerry Davis (February 22, 1953) is not too far behind. West and Davis comprise the senior-most members of the full-time umpire staff and both veterans are seeking to officiate milestone games in the not-too-distant future: Davis needs 43 regular or post-season games to achieve 5,000 MLB games worked and West is 60 regular season games short of all-time regular season games worked leader Bill Klem (5,370).

Coincidentally, West needs 60 regular season games and MLB's proposed 2020 season is exactly 60 regular season games in length. The question is whether West or other umpires would choose to opt out and try and set their respective records in 2021, presumably with fans in attendance.

Video as follows:

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Umpire Storylines for MLB's 60-Game 2020 Season

As MLB's plans for a 60-game season for 2020 proceed, we preview the umpire storylines for the abbreviated baseball year from July through the fall's World Series.

Will umpiring crews follow the list crafted prior to the season or will umps be regionally based, given umpires' vulnerability and exposure whilst traveling via commercial aviation? What happens to the new crew chiefs?
Related2020 MLB Umpire Crews (5/6/20).
Promotions: Danley / Iassogna / Marquez / Reynolds.

What rules changes should we expect, such as a pitcher's batter minimum or replay challenge time limit?
RelatedMLB's 2020 Rules (2/13/20).

Who's hurt and what would happen if an umpire were to test positive for the COVID-19 virus?

Will any umpires enter the 2020 season with a suspension or other discipline?
RelatedRob Drake's Twitter War (10/24/19).

Will Gerry Davis and/or Joe West achieve milestones and subsequently retire after the season?

What happens to Angel Hernandez's lawsuit against MLB in which the league claimed a "total absence of any evidence" of diversity issues? What of Randy Marsh?
RelatedRich Garcia 'Fed Up' Following Marsh Testimony (5/19/20).

Video as follows:

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Plate Meeting Teachable with Brian & Jeff (Part 1)

In Thursday's premiere of our Plate Meeting Teachable series, umpires Brian deBrauwere and Jeff Gosney join Tmac and Gil for video analysis from an officiating perspective. The debut at 6pm Eastern Time discusses timing, positioning, game management, and umpiring technique.

Visit the Close Call Sports YouTube page (https://www.youtube.com/CloseCallSports) and subscribe to the channel to receive updates on every video that we post.

To view this episode, click here or watch below:

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Injury Scout - Greg Gibson Out for 2020 Season

Although MLB hasn't played a game since Spring Training on March 12, famed home plate umpire Greg Gibson has nonetheless suffered an injury and will be sidelined for the entire 2020 season, if there is one, after tearing his quadriceps tendon.

According to The Daily Independent, Gibson tore his tendon in late May while loading an off-road vehicle onto a trailer at his farm in Boyd County, Kentucky. Had MLB not been subject to a COVID-19 shutdown, there's a strong chance Gibson would have been on a baseball field instead of at home when the injury occurred.

The 85% tear resulted in surgery on June 1, with recovery and rehabilitation slated to take an additional six months—or the entire baseball season. Fortunately, Gibson, who graduated from Eastern Kentucky University in 2019 with a degree in Risk Management and Insurance, can still work his office job at the insurance agency.
Related PostGreg Gibson Fulfills Goal, Graduates from College (5/12/19).

Gibson halts a postgame cooler dumping.
Said Gibson, "If you're gonna get hurt, this is the year to get hurt." He anticipates returning to baseball in 2021, estimates his umpiring career has a life of approximately six or seven years remaining, and hasn't ruled out working Replay Review HQ in New York later in 2020, if the major league players and owners agree on terms of a season.

Gibson missed time in 2019 not solely to graduate and receive his diploma, but due to injury as well (he later rehabbed in Triple-A in July and put a quick stop to a post-game in Omaha in which some players looked poised to dump a celebratory gatorade cooler on Gibson to commemorate his imminent return to the major leagues).
Related PostInjury Scout Update - Greg Gibson's Triple-A Plate (7/20/19).

Gibson was scheduled to be the Number 2 umpire on Jerry Layne's crew in 2020, alongside Will Little and first-year full-timer Jansen Visconti.
Related Post2020 MLB Umpire Crews (Delayed Season) (5/6/20).

Monday, June 8, 2020

MLB Argues No Evidence of Diversity Problem in Suit

MLB filed a motion in Angel Hernandez's lawsuit alleging racially-motivated discrimination, writing that the Latino umpire's claim of a diversity problem within umpiring suffers from a "total absence of any evidence," and that Hernandez's quality of work, not discrimination or disparate treatment, explains why he hasn't been promoted to crew chief or worked a World Series since 2005.

Disclaimer: This article and accompanying video is an opinion and not presented as be-all-end-all fact.

Part 1: Did MLB Use a "You Filed Too Late" Defense?
MLB filed a motion amidst USA civil unrest.
MLB argued that Hernandez's discrimination claim filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on May 11, 2017 precludes investigation of discrimination "that accrued before July 15, 2016" pursuant to a 300-day statute of limitations under the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and a three-year statute of limitations under New York State law and four years for federal section 42 USC §1981 (equal rights under the law).

Thus, MLB argued that any allegedly discriminatory act that occurred against Hernandez from 2011 into 2013 is inadmissible, even if it did occur: that would mean that claims for the 2011 and 2013 crew chief decisions and the 2011-12 World Series assignments were untimely under all codes, the claim regarding MLB's 2013 World Series and 2014 crew chief decisions were untimely under all statutes except for §1981, and Hernandez's claim relative to MLB's 2014 and 2015 World Series decisions are untimely under Title VII.

Part 2: MLB Also Called Out Several Incidents From Hernandez's Career.
Did AH receive disparate treatment for errors?
With all attention paid to statutes of limitation and timeliness or lack thereof, claiming some of Hernandez's claims dating to 2015 and earlier are inadmissible or otherwise ineligible, MLB nonetheless included in its filings several items outside of the relevant period ending in 2017, the backdoor appearing to be Hernandez's complaint that MLB's discrimination continued into 2017, when the lawsuit was filed.

For instance, MLB included both Hernandez's 2012 no-hitter autograph discipline (remember, Randy Marsh testified during deposition that he was disciplined for a similar infraction) and 2013 Cleveland double vs HR replay call (Hernandez claimed MLB's statement regarding the incident was disparate relative to a statement issued in response to a game-ending blown call by Jerry Meals in Atlanta, and also claimed the Cleveland video technology was deficient...MLB replaced the technology after the 2013 season).

Yet while Hernandez filed suit in 2017 relative to events that had occurred prior to and inclusive of that date, MLB also referred to the 2018 American League Division Series as evidence Hernandez held onto past events and an inability to "get over it" (three replay overturns at first base...despite Hernandez working the next game behind home plate and putting up the best plate score of the entire series...three overturns in a game was a feat also accomplished by crew chief Larry Vanover in August 2017 [we reviewed Vanover's game and actually marked four calls that should have been overturned, with Replay Review incorrectly ruling "call stands" on one of them; we also noted the disparity in notoriety Hernandez received after his three-overturn postseason game vs Vanover's three-OT regular season game]), and August 2019 substitution delay in Tampa Bay (compare, e.g., to crew chief Fieldin Culbreth's 2013 pitching change rules misapplication at Angels-Astros). Culbreth and Vanover, for the record, are 2020 crew chiefs. Hernandez is not.
Related PostReplay Oddity - Vanover Overturned 3 Times Thurs (8/11/17).

Does this unique suit belie systemic racism?
The issue of 2016 Replay Review performance also arose: Hernandez was overturned 12 times that year...but so were Bill Miller (crew chief), Jim Reynolds (promoted to crew chief in 2020), and Dale Scott (crew chief). And, according to the 2016 record books, overturned 13 times that year was John Hirschbeck (crew chief), 14 overturns for Paul Emmel (promoted to crew chief in 2017), 15 overturns for Jerry Meals (crew chief), 16 overturns for Gerry Davis (crew chief), 17 overturns for Tim Timmons (not a crew chief), and 22 overturns for Dan Iassogna (promoted to crew chief in 2020).

Is there a larger issue at play than MLB's argument, which appears to be a long-form expression of simply attacking Hernandez's job performance while white umpires with similar faults do receive the coveted promotion Hernandez claims he has been denied because of race or national origin?

MLB also argued that certain data presented by Hernandez was not statistically significant enough to indicate a diversity problem. For example, at the time Hernandez filed his suit in 2017, Richie Garcia was MLB's last full-time minority crew chief in 1999: perhaps the 18-year gap is not statistically significant...but perhaps it is.

In the present social environment of race reality, will MLB's apparent tactic in giving the appearance of attempting to get the case dismissed through summary judgment by criticizing Hernandez and writing there is a "total absence of any evidence of a demonstrable [diversity] 'problem" while pointing the finger at minor league baseball for its hiring practices relative to the Triple-A hiring pool simply kick a racially-charged can down the road?

Central to this argument is 2016 umpire composition and diversity (remember, the suit was filed in 2017, so the last full statistical year at the time of filing was 2016).

For MLB players, the league was 64% White, 27% Latino, 7% Black, and 2% Asian.
For MLB umpires, those numbers were 89% White, 5% Latino, 6% Black, and 0% Asian.
And for full-time MLB Crew Chiefs, that number was 100% White.

Video as follows:

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Real Time Call - Quick Thinking in the KBO

Most umpires across the globe officiate in leagues without instant replay, and even for an umpire backed by video review, the original on-field ruling is of tantamount importance. In this Real Time Call, we look at a bang-bang play at first base involving two runners.

In a world where so much of officiating education is spent on You Make The Call type scenarios, complete with multiple replays from multiple angles and at multiple speeds, we've decided to place added emphasis on real-time gameplay: this is a play any umpire should be able to quickly decipher on slow-motion replay...but can you figure out what happened in game-speed, on the first viewing? This is a real time play.

To set the scene, this play occurs in the top of the 6th inning of a Korea Baseball Organization game between the SK Wyverns and Doosan Bears. There is one out and the bases are loaded. For the purposes of this play, there are two shoes we'd like you to wear. Keep in mind, runner R3 Choi Jeong is attempting to score from third base and batter-runner Choi Joon-woo is attempting to beat out a ground ball, with R1 Jeong Eui-yoon and R2 Jamie Romak filling in the gaps.

First, rule on this play as 1B Umpire Lee Min-ho. Who's out, when, why, and how?
Then, rule on this play as HP Umpire Lee Yong-hyuk. What's your call, if any?

Video as follows:

Sunday, May 24, 2020

CPBL Ejection, Bench-Clear - Deciphering HBP Intent

Chinese Professional Baseball League HP Umpire Ji Huawen ejected Brothers pitcher Ariel Miranda for throwing at Guardians batter Lin Yiquan in retaliation for a prior HBP, resulting in a benches-clearing incident and learning opportunity for umpires on how to read body language as clues toward deciphering pitcher intent during throwing-at events.

Taiwan's CPBL beanball war cleared benches.
The story began in the bottom of the 3rd inning, when, with two outs Brothers batter Zhang Zhihao took a first-pitch fastball from Fubon Guardians pitcher Henry Sosa for a hit-by-pitch, resulting in a game-ending leg injury and immediate substitution of pinch-runner Chen Zihao.

In the top of the 6th, Guardians leadoff batter Lin Yiquan took a first-pitch fastball from Miranda for a hit-by-pitch, resulting in a game-ending leg injury and Miranda's immediate ejection for intentionally throwing at a batter, care of HP Umpire Ji Huawen; warnings had not been previously issued. At the time of the ejection, Fubon was leading, 4-1. Fubon ultimately won the contest, 7-3.

Reactions sometime confirm an ump's call.
Gil's Call: Watch both pitchers—Sosa in the 3rd and Miranda in the 6th—and note their body language and facial expressions. In the 3rd, Sosa clearly looks distraught and upset about his having injured an opponent with a mistake pitch. In the 6th, Miranda has a blank expression and shows no contrition or other emotion to indicate the expected empathetic response. This should communicate to an umpire or referee that the player either intended to harm the opposition or intended to cause a disruption to the game via HBP or other similar pitch. Player response or micro-expression should not be the only factor in an umpire's decision-making, but can help guide the process.

In April 2020, Sosa threw at Rakuten Monkeys batter Guo Yanwen in retaliation for an illegal bat appeal, resulting in warnings from HP Umpire Lin Jinda.
Related PostCPBL Fight - Illegal Bat, Bean Ball Prompt Bench Clearing (4/19/20).

On May 14, Wu Jiawei ejected Brothers Manager Chiu Chang-Jung and pitcher Esmil Rogers over a runner's lane interference dispute.
Related PostCPBL Ejection - Wu Jiawei (CTBC Brothers) (5/14/20).

Wrap: Fubon Guardians vs CTBC Brothers (CPBL), 5/24/20 | Video as follows:

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Rich Garcia 'Fed Up' Following Marsh Testimony

Does MLB have a culture problem? Longtime AL crew chief and former umpire supervisor Richie Garcia is "fed up" with Baseball after Randy Marsh's testimony during an Angel Hernandez v Commissioner lawsuit deposition in which Marsh commented on Garcia's 2010 termination from the league office.

Garcia recently told the AP that he is "sick of it," referencing the circumstances surrounding—and following—his abrupt dismissal from the supervisory role, and Marsh's on-the-record comments might have forced Garcia to speak out.

To recap, Marsh, in response to questions surrounding umpire discipline for misconduct, mentioned that Hernandez had been disciplined for attempting to collect memorabilia from Homer Bailey following a no-hitter and on behalf of another umpire that had officiated the milestone game.

Marsh then stated, under oath, that he personally had also been previously disciplined, and that supervisor Garcia had been fired in 2010 for going to watch son-in-law Vic Carapazza work a minor league game when he was under consideration for a big league job: "His son-in-law was umpiring in the minor leagues, was in strong consideration for promotion to the major leagues, and he was told not to go watch him work, because of being related to him. He continued to do so. He had been told not to do it, and he continued to do it."
Related PostAngel's New Evidence - Supervisors Wanted Hernandez in World Series, But Woodfork Said No (4/26/20).

Marsh admits his testimony was inaccurate.
Garcia has consistently stated he didn't want anything to do with Carapazza getting a big league job, so as to avoid the appearance of nepotism, conflict-of-interest, or otherwise: "I wanted to clear his ability to be a big league umpire and not have people think he got there because of me."

Then-World Umpires Association President Joe West backed Garcia: "''I don't want to be in a situation where I have a conflict of interest because he's my son-in-law,'' West recalled Garcia explaining. 'And then he said, 'I'm just not going to write a report on him.''"

Both Garcia & Hernandez named Manfred.
Marsh replied to an AP inquiry and said that his deposition statement—testimony given under oath on penalty of perjury—was inaccurate: "I probably mis-worded it when I was deposed. It shouldn't come out like that," further explaining, "I had no idea what reasoning they gave him for being fired and had heard from working with Rich Rieker, who was a supervisor during all those times, was that at one point he was told not to go watch his son-in-law umpire."

Garcia believes he was fired due in part to then-MLB Executive VP for Labor Relations Rob Manfred, whom also has provided deposition testimony during the Hernandez lawsuit, albeit in his capacity as MLB Commissioner. Then EVP for Baseball Operations Jimmie Lee Solomon similarly disputed the content of Marsh's testimony: "There was a desire, a general desire, to upgrade our situation a little bit. The old-school ways we felt were going to end up biting us, and we needed to get some new blood in."

Video as follows:

Friday, May 15, 2020

KBO Demotes 6th Umpire After Manager Ejection

The Korea Baseball Organization reportedly demoted umpire Hoon-Kyu Oh to the minor Futures League following an incorrect foul tip or third strike call during the week. The demotion marks KBO's sixth less than two weeks into the 2020 season.

According to KBO insider Daniel Kim, the umpire—who initially ruled a batter out on a swinging third strike—affirmed his out call following a subsequent conversation with Lotte Giants catcher Bo-geun that was captured by Korean broadcast MBC's microphones and, according to Kim, "went viral. He had to go," suggesting the umpire's verbal remarks to a player may have contributed to KBO's decision as much as his on-field judgment call.

To be clear, video indicates the umpire stuck with his initial "out" call and did not change his call as a result of his conversation with the catcher. Replays indicate the baseball appeared to contact the bat prior to touching the ground and ultimately entering the catcher's mitt.

Unlike Major League Baseball's MLBUA umpires' union or Minor League's AMLU association, KBO umpires are not part of a union and do not enjoy collective bargaining power nor protection.

KBO reporter Dan Kurtz indicated, "As far as I know, the umps are considered individual contractors."

In the United States, although umpires and referees for youth, high school, and most college leagues and conferences are considered independent contractors, MLB and MiLB umpires are employees of the leagues in which they work.

Nonetheless, this might be a good time to refer to our October 2019 review of umpiring and social media: word choice applies to what an official says both off and on the field.
Related PostRob Drake's Twitter War, Umpires and Social Media (10/24/19).

Video as follows:

Thursday, May 14, 2020

CPBL Ejection - Wu Jiawei (CTBC Brothers)

HP Umpire Wu Jiawei ejected CTBC Brothers Manager Chiu Chang-Jung and pitcher Esmil Rogers (runner's lane interference no-call; QOCY) in the top of the 3rd inning of the Rakuten Monkeys-Brothers game. With two out and two on (R1, R2), Rakuten batter Liao Jianfu bunted up the first base line. Rogers fielded the ball and threw to first base, his throw striking the batter-runner in the back of the head and bouncing away, allowing baserunners R1 and R2 to advance: R1 Guo Yanwen to third base and R2 Zhu Yuxian to score.

Replays indicate batter-runner Liao Jianfu appeared to run within the runner's lane on his way to first base (important reminder: the three-foot lines are considered part of the lane for the purposes of rule 5.09(a)(11)) before being struck and knocked down by Rogers' throw, forced to leave the game due to injury as the crew affirmed the call following consultation, the no-call was correct.* Rogers was ejected during a subsequent pitching change, prompting a brief bench-clearing incident (singular) in which 3B Umpire Luo Junhong sprinted from his position to intercept Brothers players. At the time of the ejections, the Monkeys were leading, 5-1. The Monkeys ultimately won the contest, 6-3.

The BR's heel on the foul line means he's OK.
*Official Baseball Rule 5.09(a)(11) states a batter is out when, "In running the last half of the distance from home base to first base, while the ball is being fielded to first base, he runs outside (to the right of) the three-foot line, or inside (to the left of) the foul line, and in the umpire’s judgment in so doing interferes with the fielder taking the throw at first base, in which case the ball is dead; except that he may run outside (to the right of) the three-foot line or inside (to the left of) the foul line to avoid a fielder attempting to field a batted ball."
OBR 5.09(a)(11) Comment states, "The lines marking the three-foot lane are a part of that lane and a batter-runner is required to have both feet within the three-foot lane or on the lines marking the lane. The batter-runner is permitted to exit the three-foot lane by means of a step, stride, reach or slide in the immediate vicinity of first base for the sole purpose of touching first base."

Wrap: Rakuten Monkeys vs CTBC Brothers, 5/9/20 | Video as follows:

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Tmac's Teachable - Collision Play at Home

Tmac's latest Teachable follows a tag-up turned home plate collision play as an outfielder's throw takes his catcher into the runner sliding in from third base. In this travel ball game, the HP Umpire no-calls the sequence before declaring the baserunner out on an eventual tag, much to the chagrin of the offensive team.

While the obvious matter of the runner having touched home plate prior to being tagged and declared out may appear chiefly at issue, Tmac breaks down several other aspects of this play relative to officiating technique as well as proper rules enforcement and administration.

The discussion includes references to the NFHS (high school), NCAA (college), and OBR (professional/MLB/MiLB) rulesets, with explanations as to the plays legality and different rulings at each level.

The issue of potential obstruction (NFHS 2-22, NCAA 2-55) and home plate collision rule violations vs the concept of an unavoidable collision (NCAA 8-7-c, OBR 6.01(i)) are discussed.

Video as follows:

Saturday, May 9, 2020

KBO Demotes Umpire Crew After Player's Complaint

Less than 24 hours after a player publicly complained about an umpire's plate calls, the Korea Baseball Organization demoted his entire five-person officiating crew to the minor leagues. The KBO season is less than a week old and multiple members of the crew hadn't even called balls and strikes prior to their demotion for "lack of consistency on ball-strike calls."

Hanwha Eagles outfielder Lee Yong-kyu took to the media following Thursday's action, and said, "Even though it's only been three games this season, a lot of players are really unhappy with the lack of consistency on ball-strike calls. I'd like to ask all the umpires to please be more considerate of the players. We're all very confused (with the inconsistent zone). I know the umpires are doing their best out there, but I just hope they should start seeing things from the players' perspective, too."

Following the player's comments, KBO officials quickly moved to demote the entire five-person umpiring crew of Lee Ki-joong, Jang Jun-young, Won Hyun-sik, Choi Su-won, and Kim Jun-hee to the Futures League for "retraining" while simultaneously asking players not to publicly criticize umpires and "to show more respect toward officials."

Gil's Call: Logic...Demoting five umpires for balls/strikes performance over the span of three games means that—even if we were to assume the three games were all subpar—two of the demoted umpires never actually called a game behind the plate (and thus cannot logically have turned in a suboptimal performance). That must be what the KBO means by "show more respect toward officials."

KBO umps wear masks, but players don't.
Second, depending on your affinity for science, my mask-as-hindrance-to-breathing gag at the beginning of the last video has now proven to be a legitimate concern. Less oxygen in the bloodstream has a negative effect on performance: "Different masks have varying levels of airflow restriction, depending on the thickness of the material...With less air, your body has less available oxygen to utilize during exercise to convert glucose [sugar] into energy."

Finally, it seems notable for KBO to exercise an adverse employment action against an umpire for poor performance when forcing said umpires to wear face coverings, long sleeves, and gloves (while allowing players to forgo masks) likely carries a negative correlation. Either order players to wear masks or allow umpires to remove them. In the United States, such an event could be deemed a violation of labor law, regardless of whether or not a union or collective bargaining agreement exists. Similarly, the presence of a union such as MLBUA strongly discourages such punitive actions.

I hypothesize MLB umpires will not be forced to wear similar masks, gloves, and long sleeves in the heat of Spring Training stadiums in Arizona and humidity-laden Florida. As long as such protective gear is required, I'd surmise it is likely not yet safe enough to play the game.
Related PostKorea Baseball Says Play w Umpires in Masks & Gloves (5/5/20).

During its broadcast, ESPN commentators speculated that the KBO had adopted a new policy that allows the organization to demote any umpire—to include entire crews—in the wake of a subpar game.

The KBO reportedly hired a new Director of Umpires prior to the 2020 season. MLB is considering an electronic strike zone for its 2020 campaign.

Video as follows:

Friday, May 8, 2020

Plate Meeting - COVID Mental Health Checkup

In this Plate Meeting Podcast video episode, we step away from on-field umpiring discussion and turn to the current reality for all umpires: a wholesale loss of all games at all levels (in all sports). In this COVID mental health checkup, Jack Furlong of the OSIP Foundation joins tmac & Gil for a conversation about the current sports landscape and reality for officials who continue to lose income due to a lack of games to work.

We've long discussed the subject of umpire abuse stemming from on-field and game-related incidents, but to this point haven't especially delved into off-the-field, non-game mindsets for sports officials.

This episode of The Plate Meeting is available on YouTube in video form as follows, as well as audio form on our Anchor.fm page:

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

2020 MLB Umpire Crews (Delayed Season)

Before COVID-19 delayed Opening Day, the originally-drafted 2020 MLB umpire crew list features 76 umpires in 19 crews. Major League Baseball may reshuffle these crews due to coronavirus restrictions, however, or assign umpires or crew chiefs regionally as the season begins in modified form.

The following table is arranged by Chief seniority and may be found on the UEFL Umpire Roster, Profiles & Crews page, which features MiLB call-up information as well as the MLB staff list. UEFL Umpire Profiles are also available for full-time MLBU.

Reminder: The 2020 UEFL Draft will remain open until Opening Day.

2020 MLB Umpire Crews (by Umpiring Crew Chief Seniority)

Crew #Crew ChiefUmpire 2Umpire 3Umpire 4
Crew 112 Davis, Gerry6 Carlson, Mark92 Hoye, James31 Hoberg, Pat
Crew 222 West, Joe5 Hernandez, Angel2 Bellino, Dan78 Hamari, Adam
Crew 324 Layne, Jerry53 Gibson, Greg93 Little, Will52 Visconti, Jansen
Crew 49 Gorman, Brian3 Welke, Bill80 Johnson, Adrian36 Blakney, Ryan
Crew 520 Hallion, Tom10 Cuzzi, Phil91 Knight, Brian90 Ripperger, Mark
Crew 633 Winters, Mike21 Wendelstedt, Hunter76 Muchlinski, Mike59 Lentz, Nic
Crew 725 Culbreth, Fieldin39 Nauert, Paul54 Bucknor, CB17 Reyburn, DJ
Crew 865 Barrett, Ted60 Foster, Marty98 Conroy, Chris96 Segal, Chris
Crew 945 Nelson, Jeff63 Diaz, Laz49 Fletcher, Andy85 Scheurwater, Stu
Crew 1026 Miller, Bill88 Eddings, Doug30 Drake, Rob62 Whitson, Chad
Crew 1127 Vanover, Larry51 Hudson, Marvin19 Carapazza, Vic86 Rackley, David
Crew 1241 Meals, Jerry15 Hickox, Ed71 Baker, Jordan47 Morales, Gabe
Crew 1350 Emmel, Paul7 O'Nora, Brian1 Dreckman, Bruce89 Blaser, Cory
Crew 1434 Holbrook, Sam28 Wolf, Jim79 Gonzalez, Manny81 Wolcott, Quinn
Crew 1514 Wegner, Mark68 Guccione, Chris64 Porter, Alan83 Estabrook, Mike
Crew 16 44 Danley, Kerwin46 Kulpa, Ron4 Fairchild, Chad87 Barry, Scott
Crew 1772 Marquez, Alfonso95 Timmons, Tim16 Barrett, Lance37 Torres, Carlos
Crew 1877 Reynolds, Jim11 Randazzo, Tony13 Tichenor, Todd73 Gibson, Tripp
Crew 1958 Iassogna, Dan23 Barksdale, Lance74 Tumpane, John18 De Jesus, Ramon
DL/IR[To Be Determined]

New MLB Umpires (New Hire MLBU): Blakney, De JesusLentzSegalVisconti.
New Crew Chiefs (Promotion to -CC): Danley, Iassogna, Marquez, Reynolds.
Retirements: Cederstrom, DeMuth, Everitt, Kellogg (DiMuro retired in mid-2019).
RIP: Cooper.

Notes and Observations:
≫ Only one crew—#7 (Culbreth)—remains unchanged from 2019.
≫ As occurred in 2018 & 2019, West swapped all three crewmates. He reunites with Hernandez.
≫ ≫ Not The Onion, But Humurous Coincidence: Hernandez, while mid-suit v MLB, adds a lawyer (Bellino) to his crew.
Lance Barrett switched from sleeve #94 to #16, Mike DiMuro's old number.

Statistical Promotions or Leftward Lateral Movement:
≫ From Umpire 3 to Umpire 2: Hickox, Barksdale, Randazzo, Foster, Guccione, Wolf.
≫ From Umpire 4 to Umpire 3: Little, Baker, Muchlinski, Tumpane, Conroy, L Barrett, Gonzalez.

Statistical Rightward Lateral Movement:
≫ From Umpire 2 to Umpire 3: Dreckman.
≫ From Umpire 3 to Umpire 4: Barry.

Video as follows:

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Korea Baseball Says Play w Umpires in Masks & Gloves

The Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) started its 2020 season with several COVID-19 mitigation measures in place: As with Taiwan's CPBL, the Korean league played games in empty stadiums without fans, but KBO umpires and coaches took mitigation a step further.

While KBO players participated without protective gear of any sort, umpires and base coaches wore face coverings—the coaches wore white masks and the umpires wore black—and umpires additionally wore long sleeve shirts and black gloves.

Pictured at right is KBO umpire Park Geun-young in the protective gear during Tuesday's NC Dinos - Samsung Lions game.
KBO umpires conduct a Replay Review.

For HP Umpire Kang Gwang-hwe, it meant wearing two masks—one a traditional-style facemask and the other an infectious disease-style face covering—along with long sleeves and gloves.

Are the KBO umpire masks truly effective around barefaced players and will MLB umpires follow suit when baseball continues in the Americas—rumored for a potential June Spring Training and July Opening Day?

Friday, May 1, 2020

MLB & Umpires Agree to COVID-19 Pay Cut

As the coronavirus shutdown drags on, Major League Baseball and the MLB Umpires Association agreed to reduce umpire pay in 2020, averting another potential source of discord between the umps and commissioner's office.

To set the table, full-time MLB umpires (MLBUA) receive a base salary and additional compensation for serving as a crew chief, working a certain amount of Spring Training games, and being selected to the postseason.

In the spirit of baseball theming, the umpires receive a Postseason Bonus as an annual perk; Unlike players, MLB umpires are paid year-round, over 12 months, as opposed to only during the season (or, alternately, umpires have their wages stretched out over the course of a full calendar year).

Umpires also receive a per diem for incidentals and other benefits such as retirement and health care.

MLB first considered E-Zones in April.
Ken Rosenthal from The Athletic reported that umpires have received 33% of their yearly pay, which represents the period from January through April.

Although Bob Nightengale reported an agreement that would reduce salaries by 30%, an AP report disputed Nightengale's claim. The deal, which also includes a reduction of the umpiring per diem by 20%, thus allows umpires to keep at least 37.5% of their usual pay whether or not a season with full crews (e.g., with umpires staffing Replay Review) is played.

The deal purportedly allows MLB to forgo Replay Review during the 2020 season. Coming to a return-to-play agreement with the umpires' union means MLB can now turn its attention to the MLB Players Association, which has not yet signed on to a deal.

Also, as previously reported, MLB retains the right to develop electronic strike zone technology in consultation with the umpires; either way, the new deal entitles umpires to the bulk of their usual base earnings.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Is This Gerry Davis & Joe West's Final Season?

Is this it for senior-most MLB umpires Gerry Davis and Joe West? Davis told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch he has informed Major League Baseball 2020 will likely be his final season...that is, if it ever gets played. Both veteran crew chiefs are chasing umpiring milestones: Bill Klem's all-time games umpired record for West and 5,000 career games for Davis.

While Davis explained that, under normal circumstances, the 2020 season would be his last, he also left the door open to returning to the field in 2021 in the event that he is unable to crack the 5,000-games mark in 2020: he might even make his 5,000th game his last.

West trails only Hall of Fame Umpire Bill Klem in all-time regular season games officiated, and seems unlikely to retire until earning the all-time top spot...perhaps even longer.

And, realistically, how much of a let-down would it be to see either legendary umpire without a proper celebration in stadiums full of fans: As Davis quipped in his Post article, he might achieve the 5,000-mark during a game at a neutral site without fans. That's not what a 5,000-gamer (or in West's case, the #1 all-time games worked leader) deserves.

Even our friend Bob Davidson got a shoutout via the Angel Stadium public address in his final game.

With both Davis and West less than 100 games each from accomplishing their varied goals (Davis needs 43 more games to get 5,000 while West needs 60 for his goal of 5,370 career regular season games officiated [per MLB; it's 5,375 according to Retrosheet]) and the Minor Leagues reportedly ready to contract and eliminate many lower-league teams (thus, umpiring jobs), the baseball landscape appears poised for a change upon sports' eventual post-COVID resumption.

Video as follows:

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Angel's New Evidence - Supervisors Wanted Hernandez in World Series, But Woodfork Said No

Plaintiff Angel Hernandez filed over 1,000 pages of evidence in his lawsuit against MLB over the weekend, charging that umpire supervisors Ed Montague and Steve Palermo specifically recommended Hernandez be placed on two World Series crews, only to have the suggestions shot down both times by the Commissioner's Office. Crew Chief responsibility, it turns out, similarly wasn't unusual: Hernandez served as an Interim or Acting Chief nearly every year since Joe Torre's arrival in the Commissioner's Office in 2011.

According to Hernandez's pretrial discovery filings—the non-heavily redacted part—umpire supervisor Montague recommended Hernandez for the 2012 World Series, a suggestion ignored by the League.

The filings indicate that in October 2015, supervisor Steve Palermo sent an e-mail to his boss, Director of Umpiring Randy Marsh, recommending a World Series crew of Angel Hernandez, Phil Cuzzi, Gerry Davis, Marvin Hudson, Dale Scott, Bill Welke, and Jim Wolf.

Senior Vice President of Baseball Operations Peter Woodfork allegedly stepped in to stop it, sending an e-mail to Senior Director of Umpire Operations Matt McKendry, writing, "Four new umpires and the guy in the middle of the largest debacle"... a debacle reportedly two-years old and allegedly caused by deficient technology in place at the time.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

CPBL Teachable - Positioning for a Peculiar Pickoff

Although MLB remains on hiatus, baseball in Taiwan marches on, and this pickoff play from a CPBL game gave Tmac an idea for a Teachable Moment. The 2B Umpire must decide how to receive a play with more than one potential tagging fielder. How does an umpire's positioning differ for a shortstop vs second baseman pickoff?

In this Teachable, we consider pre-play possibilities for both scenarios along with the implications for officiating this play in real-time, both as relates to starting position along the infield as well as the footwork required to wind up in the best keyhole or wedge angle to see the pick off play.

Our last Teachable featuring HP Umpire David Rackley cautioned against moving too much, or over-hustling to take oneself out of position. This time, it's all about taking an appropriate read step or two...but not aimlessly. The goal is to move with a purpose—know when to go, but also when to stop.
Related PostTeachable - Rack 'Em Up with Rackley's Plate Position (4/17/20).

Video as follows:

Sunday, April 19, 2020

CPBL Fight - Illegal Bat, Bean Ball Prompt Bench Clearing

MLB isn't playing baseball, but Taiwan's fan-less CPBL just had its first bench-clearing brawl of the season as Fubon Guardians pitcher Henry Sosa threw at Rakuten Monkeys batter Guo Yanwen in retaliation for an illegal bat 'appeal,' HP Umpire Lin Jinda opting to issue warnings in lieu of ejections.

This is a more complex case than simple "FIGHT!" but if you'd like to simply see a melee, the video can be found at the end of this article.

In the top of the 4th inning of Sunday's Fubon-Rakuten game, with the bases loaded and one out, Guardians batter Lin Che-Hsuan hit a first-pitch fastball from Monkeys pitcher Weng Wei-Jun on the ground to third baseman Lin Li, who threw to catcher Lin Hongyu for the second out of the inning. After the play, Rakuen alerted HP Umpire Lin Jinda as to potential illegal use of pine tar in the bat just used during the groundout.

The veteran umpire—who began his Chinese Professional Baseball League career in 2000 and officiated his 2,000th CPBL game in 2019—walked over to Fubon's dugout, took the bat, consulted with league officials via walkie talkie, and simply acknowledged the illegality of the bat, ordering it out of play without further penalty to Fubon—no additional outs, no ejections (*jump down to see why).

In the bottom of the 4th, Guardians pitcher Sosa threw three straight inside fastballs at Rakuten batter Guo Yanwen, before drilling him in the hip with what would have otherwise been ball four, resulting in warnings—but not ejections—from the umpires.

Sosa remained in the game to strike out ensuing batter Yu-Xian Zhu—and pitch two additional innings—without further incident. At the time of the benches-clearing event, the game was tied, 1-1. The Monkeys ultimately won the contest, 3-1.

Rules analysis and video as follows:

Friday, April 17, 2020

Teachable - Rack 'Em Up with Rackley's Plate Position

When HP Umpire David Rackley took a single read step to his left on a potential play at home plate, he stopped short of committing to a baseline extended and in doing so provided us with a Tmac's Teachable Moment as Rackley's positioning quickly turned into a crew effort featuring 1B Umpire Alfonso Marquez, 2B Umpire Dan Bellino, and 3B Umpire Jeremie Rehak.

We first notice 1B Umpire and Crew Chief Marquez respond to a ground ball to Cubs second baseman David Bote by jogging toward first base in foul territory, setting up for a potential play on the batter-runner.

Instead, the play will be at home plate, and 3B Umpire Rehak strolls toward the bag to watch for Pirates baserunner R2 Pablo Reyes' base touch. Finally, HP Umpire Rackley moves into an optimal spot with which to call the subsequent tag play, ruling via his keyhole angle or wedge that Cubs catcher Willson Contreras tagged out Reyes and did not illegally block home plate, a call affirmed upon Replay Review.

Video as follows:

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Case Play Solution 2020-2 - Pitcher's Hidden Ball Trick

Previously in Case Play 2020-2 - Pitcher's Hidden Ball Trick, we asked whether an usual delivery was legal or not. Now, having consulted the Official Baseball Rules, we have an answer also applicable to NCAA college and NFHS high school baseball, with a few caveats.

To solve this pitching puzzle, we went rule-by-rule for those listed on the Case Play. Here were the findings:

OBR 3.07(a): At the professional level, the glove crotch (or webbing)'s color may or may not be legal. Enforcement of the PANTONE 14-series rule is rather difficult without carrying an entire color swatch onto the playing field. Likewise, leave this alone at the lower levels, which have no such rule. All levels of baseball require the glove not be white or gray, which this glove does not appear to be (brown/yellow). This case play pertains to a college pitcher; his glove is legal.

OBR 5.07(a)(1) / NCAA 9-1-a / NFHS 6-1-2 / 6-4-2d: We turn to a compare-and-contrast example of an overseas professional pitcher attempting a similar hidden ball trick maneuver, but ultimately failing due to an interruption to his delivery while transferring the ball from pitching hand to gloved hand behind his back. For the purpose of our case play, there does not appear to be an interruption nor alteration (OBR/NCAA/NFHS) and the pitcher remains in continuous motion (NFHS). This is legal.

OBR 6.02(a)(10) / 6.02(b): Whereas an illegal pitch carries the penalty of a balk with runner(s), this balk rule (remove one hand from the ball) does not transform into an illegal pitch with no runners on base. This rule thus is not applicable.

OBR 6.04(c) / NCAA 5-15-a-3: The unsportsmanlike conduct/game misconduct rule is the thorniest since it is subject to the greatest degree of judgment. In college, this likely would not qualify as unsporting as it would at a lower level (e.g., Little League).

Video as follows:

Monday, April 13, 2020

Teachable - Reggie Brawls With Denny After HR

This edition of Tmac's Teachable Moments follows Reggie Jackson, whose home run off John Denny quickly devolves into a benches-clearing brawl between the Yankees and Indians on September 23, 1981.

HP Umpire Dale Ford and crewmates Derryl Cousins, Marty Springstead, and Joe Brinkman sort the aftermath of a late-season fight that featured a batter charging the mound...after getting a hit.

Earlier in the game, Denny had thrown a pitch up-and-in, causing Jackson to duck out of the way. When Jackson struck out to end the 2nd inning, his confrontation with Denny prompted benches to clear and Ford to issue a warning to both teams. New York coach Joe Altobelli was subsequently ejected for arguing Ford's warnings.

Jackson's fourth-inning at-bat resulted in a home run. Jackson lingered at home plate before trotting around the bases, removing his helmet in celebration as he neared home plate. More yelling ensued, at which time Jackson charged Denny and the benches cleared again.

What would you do if this was your game? Video as follows:

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Tmac's Thoughts as Taiwan Plays Baseball Again

As Taiwan's Chinese Professional Baseball League (CPBL) becomes the first to resume play with COVID-19 social distancing measures while MLB remains shut down, Tmac ponders how umpiring could change post-isolation.

The CPBL, which has an easier task at managing its league of only five teams as opposed to MLB's 30 or MiLB's hundreds of clubs, began its regular season in April with robot fans/drummers and otherwise vacant stands. Should the coronavirus situation play any role in how an umpire goes about officiating or is business-as-usual the more appropriate response?

Video as follows:

Friday, April 10, 2020

Case Play 2020-2 - Pitcher's Hidden Ball Trick

A recent video of University of Massachusetts Dartmouth baseball pitcher Adam Horowitz's pitch from Windup Position while removing an empty pitching hand from his glove before loading the hidden ball and delivering to a stunned batter who takes the pitch for a called strike has led baseball fans and umpires to wonder about this delivery's legality.

Case Play Question: Can a pitcher attempt to conceal the baseball from the batter during delivery by separating and reuniting his hands three times during the windup? Is it legal to pin the ball against the outside of a glove using the index finger of the gloved hand?

If this is illegal, what is the penalty with no runners on base and what is the penalty with runners?

Is a mound magic trick featuring a (feel free to read up on the seven basic principles of magic here [Penn and Teller have a fine act on the subject]) steal, misdirection, and load legal?

AnswerRule-by-rule explanation as to legality of F1's windup trickery (4/14/20).

The following video analysis lists all relevant rules (OBR/NCAA/NFHS) and what to watch for when making your call and interpretation of whether this pitcher's delivery is legal or not. Thanks to the Umpire Video Archive for sharing.

Rules Library & Video as follows:

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Robot Fans? How International Baseball is Coping with COVID-19

Forget about robot umpires: Taiwan's CPBL plans to introduce robo-fans when baseball resumes. While MLB eyes a May start, Japan had to shut down after players tested positive for coronavirus, crippling NPB just weeks after the league resumed Spring Training in empty stadiums.

Here's how baseball leagues throughout the world are handling their season postponements, with an example as to the difficulty of playing baseball in a viral world, even with no fans in attendance:

United States (Late May or June): MLB has not officially committed to a revised date for Opening Day, though the most recent reports indicate an eye toward starting a season without fans in late May or early June. One of the potential issues we identified, however, was the question of a player testing positive.
Related PostMLB Considering Electronic Strike Zone for Social Distance Safety During 2020 Season (4/7/20).

Although MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred would reportedly want to continue playing the season while isolating the positive player(s)—hence the need for expanded rosters—one look at MLB's Japanese counterpart shows why this might be more difficult than it looks.

Japan (late May): Nippon Professional Baseball Commissioner Atsushi Saito announced an extended delay to the NPB season after Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe declared a national state of emergency. NPBL initially hoped to begin playing on April 24, but Abe's national declaration has pushed NPB's start date back by at least one month.

Three Hanshin Tigers players, pitcher Shintaro Fujinami, outfielder Hayata Ito, and catcher Kenya Nagasaka, additionally tested positive for the virus; the trio reportedly had dinner together on March 14 and didn't exhibit symptoms until late March.

Japan had resumed Spring Training with no fans in attendance in a sign of tentative optimism, but the recent viral flare up in Japan (cases and deaths have increased), including the infection of multiple NPB players after the restart of play, and state of emergency made the no-fans plan a no-go.

The development could prove disastrous for USA's MLB by portraying the perils of trying to resume too soon, even in an otherwise controlled environment.

South Korea (early May): The Korean Baseball Organization began scrimmaging recently—intrasquad affairs thus far and hopes to start its season in "early May." South Korea has become the world model for tackling COVID-19 through its combination of widespread testing, isolation, and contact monitoring.

Because South Korea was so successful in testing early-on in the contagion, the country has been able to successfully manage the virus' spread, which has given KBO Secretary General Ryu Dae-hwan the confidence to announce preseason games beginning on April 21 with a goal of Opening Day in early May.

Unlike MLB, Korea isn't seeking to squeeze in a full schedule through doubleheaders in one metropolitan area; instead, KBO is looking at playing a full 144-game schedule, with all games pushed approximately one month back with playoffs lasting through November.

Taiwan (April 11): The Chinese Professional Baseball League (CPBL), following local CDC guidelines, decided to begin the 2020 season in empty stadiums. One team, the Rakuten Monkeys, announced it would place "robot mannequins in the stands dressed up as fans." CPBL President John Wu has instructed fans to stay home and avoid gathering outside the stadiums.

The CPBL has only five teams, meaning the Taiwanese league has the smallest group to manage over a 48-game schedule.

Europe (Cancelled): The European Baseball Association (CEB) cancelled international European baseball cups, which would have taken place in Ostrava, Czech Republic, in June.

United Kingdom (May): Already dealing with CEB and London Series cancellations, the British Baseball Federation (BBF) postponed all activities until May.

Italy (June 13): The Federazione Italiana Baseball/Softball (FIBS) announced plans to begin playing in mid-June, and has actually built-in to its schedule the ability to stop playing all-together for several weeks in August in the event of a flare-up.

Southern Hemisphere (including Australia): Although the Australian Baseball League (ABL) is in its winter offseason, Oceana does ordinarily play some baseball over the April-August period. Baseball Queensland, for instance, has postponed all leagues until at least May 19, 2020, with the goal of eventual re-evaluation that might push that date farther back.

The Greater Brisbane League, specifically, prematurely concluded its season, awarding Division Premierships to teams presently at the top of their divisions at the time of the season's termination.

Mexican League (May 11 or later): LMB was one of the final leagues to stop playing Spring ball, and other than an initial mid-March announcement of expecting to postpone the season until May 11, LMB has been silent on the issue. One team, Los Leones de Yucatan, announced that doctors and nurses will get free tickets to Lions games for the entire 2020 season.